Our chickens are Hybrids.
Hybrid Chickens After the 2nd World War people’s demands and expectations changed and they wanted fresh eggs all year round, as they now had refrigerators to keep them in. This meant there was a massive demand for eggs pushing prices higher. The hens being kept at the time were unable to reliably produce 300+eggs a year each.
Unfortunately the demand for plentiful cheap eggs also produced the development of what we now know as the "battery cage" system. Genetics were just becoming “the in thing” in the scientific world and known good layers were crossed using genetic formulae to develop the hybrid chicken that would continually lay well for 2 years.
The majority of today’s hybrid hens are actually bred from well-known utility laying breeds such as the Rhode Island Red, Marans or Leghorns. In recent years more people have wanted to keep a few birds in the garden so that they can collect their own eggs. This phenomena seemed to coincide with people becoming more aware of where the supermarket eggs came from. The first commercial hybrid was what we call the “Warren” a mainly brown chicken.(Mabel and Olwyn)
Chicken breeders were quick to realise that we didn’t want just brown birds in our gardens but that some us did want hens that laid all year. So they started breeding chickens that are still primarily a hybrid but are much more varied in colour. There is now a large variety of hybrid chickens available. Ambers, Blacktail, Bluebelles, Columbine, Copper Black, Rangers, Rhode Rocks, Speckledy, Sussex, White Stars.
If you buy two similar looking birds from 2 different breeders, the chance is they have been “named” differently, as breeders name their own hybrids. One thing is for certain, in that all will be prolific egg-layers. More recently differently coloured eggs have been added to the qualities available from hybrid birds. A Maran genetic based hybrid such as the Speckedly, will produce brown or brown speckled eggs. Whilst Columbines bred from selected strains of the Cream Crested Legbar, has a high percentage chance of laying a blue egg. Fenton Blue hens have been bred from the Cream Legbar will produce a blue/green egg. (Bev)
The list is in fact almost endless, as every country around the world will have breeders with their “own” hybrids. When buying a hybrid chicken you will be paying a fraction of the cost of a breed bird. Hybrid chicken prices do vary dependent on where the bird originated from. Many will have been hatched by commercial hatcheries and done so by the thousand. Many of these chicks will be sold as early as one day old to a second “breeder”, to be "grown on" and eventually sold to us as POL/point of lay hens at around 16-24 weeks of age. Some of the “grown on” birds are now being sold to a third party, garden centres, before eventually reaching the back garden hen keeper. As you can well imagine, purchasing hens through these outlets is one of the most expensive ways of acquiring your hens. I recently saw Warrens marked at £25 per bird in a garden centre, yet a near-by breeder of Ambers was selling POL for £16!
For more ABC fun follow the link in my sidebar!